10.07.2005

Sacrificial Lies


From Politics of Dissent, a relatively new blog written by Atty. Ken Sanders of Tuscon, comes "Imperialists in Democratic Clothing". Some quotes:
With his ratings in the tank and desperately in need of a boost, not to mention a distraction from the sudden impotence of his administration, this week President Bush fell back on what worked so successfully for him in the past: fostering fear and promoting war.

Originally scheduled to mark the anniversary of 9/11, but postponed so that Bush and his cronies could ignore Hurricane Katrina, Bush delivered his latest pro-war screed to the ludicrously misnamed National Endowment for Democracy. A government-funded, semi-private organization (which happens to be free of Congressional oversight), the NED is a darling of the neo-conservatives and shares membership with the Project for a New American Century. Created by Reagan in the 1980s, ostensibly to promote "free market democracies" through "the magic of the marketplace," the NED's interests and practices are anything but democratic. As can be gleaned from its stated goals, the NED's notion of "democracies" are countries friendly to U.S. corporate interests. If a country isn't "democratic" enough already, the NED uses U.S. taxpayer money to subversively fund and instigate regime change.

Examples abound of the NED's fondness for interfering with the elections and democratic processes (however imperfect) of other nations. In the 1980s, the NED funded militaristic and dictatorial candidates in Panama, as well as opposition candidates in such stable democracies as Costa Rica (the opposition candidate in Costa Rica also had the endorsement of that champion of democracy, Manuel Noriega). In the 1990 elections in Haiti, the NED provided significant funding to former World Bank official Marc Bazin in a failed attempt to oust the leftist Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Bazin, seen by most Haitians as a "front man for military and business interests," received only 12% of the vote. Displeased with that result, the NED funded anti-Aristide groups, culminating in the violent political instability in Haiti that left dozens dead and ultimately resulted in Aristide's exile . . .

What was most notable about Bush's speech to the NED was his tacit admission that his so-called war on terror is really a war for imperial dominance. Bush accused the terrorists of seeking to "overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia." Is that not precisely what the U.S. seeks and has long sought to accomplish both overtly through force and surreptitiously through groups like the NED? Does not the U.S. seeks to establish a military-corporate empire that spans the globe?
Atty. Sanders, by the way, also makes his own home brew. Wonder if he does a nice hoppy pale ale. Hmmmm . . . A few pints might make it easier to read the so-called FAQ about what the NED is doing in Venezuela:
NED in Venezuela
The NED has supported democratic organizations in Venezuela since 1993. In recent years in Venezuela the trade unions have been threatened with dissolution, journalists have been put at risk with their freedom curtailed and democratic institutions and processes have been manipulated and undermined. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reports that the conditions in Venezuela "demonstrate a clear weakness in the fundamental pillars that must support the rule of law in a democratic system, consistent with the American Convention on Human Rights and other international instruments." NED has increased its funding over the past two years for programs in Venezuela that help groups defend basic democratic rights. The objective of the NED's programs in Venezuela, as in all such countries where democratic rights are threatened, has been and remains to support groups and individuals struggling to strengthen democratic processes, rights, and values, irrespective of their political or partisan affiliations. All of these groups represent the most moderate, and democratic elements in what has become an extremely polarized situation.

What kinds of groups does NED support in Venezuela?
The Endowment program in Venezuela has focused on promoting citizen participation in the political process, civil and political rights, freedom of expression and professional journalism, and conflict mediation. Grantee Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad - Venezuela (Press and Society Institute - Venezuela) works to protect journalists through an alert network and improve their investigative reporting skills. Justicia Alternativa uses NED support to conduct training on conflict resolution, human rights, and police-community relations in the state of Aragua. The Center for Justice and International Law monitors the human rights situation in Venezuela and is training local human rights groups and journalists on how to prepare cases for the Inter-American system to defend freedom of expression. NED funding allows the Acción para el Desarrollo to conduct civic education workshops on democratic values and conflict resolution for presidents of neighborhood associations.
Yeah, heh, heh, . . . right.

The really great thing about post-imperialism imperialism is that it really doesn't have anything to do with borders and need not respond to popular dissent. It is sufficient to just create myths. One such myth is that the USA is no longer a racist society. "Lookie here, Bubba . . . we got Condi, we got Colin, we got just scads 'a African 'Mericans!" Well, Mick Arran of Dispatch from the Trenches points us to a now month-old Racism Ain't Over by veteran blogger Phaedrus. Here's a slice from his post "The 'Failure' of 'Liberal' Housing Projects":
According to the right wing ideologues, the plight of the poor in New Orleans, just like the plight of the poor everywhere in the U.S., is the fault of failed "liberal" policies. Of course, you don't even have to read or listen to right wing opinion to know this. You can just assume that, within the right's massive echo chamber, everything is the liberals fault. Poverty, corruption, grout mold, toe fungus. If they can find a way to make political hay out of any problem, it's definitely the liberals fault, and the right always has examples.

Public housing, in particular the projects, is always prominent among them. And there are in fact huge problems connected with public housing projects. If you told me, "Hey, we're going to build shoddy, underfunded housing projects in which to segregate the poor by both income and race," I would have said, "Wow! What a massively stupid idea."

Now I'm a progressive, or a liberal, or a leftist, or whatever non-right wing epithet you want to throw at me, and maybe this is just personal bias talking, but I'm not inclined to think of people like me as massively stupid. So how is it that people like me came up with such an incredibly idiotic idea as the best way to help the poor? Just a little online research confirms my suspicion. They didn't.
Damn straight they didn't. I worked for a bunch of years in the "War on Poverty." The enabling legislation of OEO/CSA called for the "maximum feasible participation of the poor" in designing and implementing community action efforts. What a joke. Lotta liberals got rich, lotta poor got nuttin, 'cept containment in new ghettos. And it was pretty insidious, too. Take the public housing situation in Boston, for example. In Southie, right on Carson Beach, there was a housing project (I think it was Old Colony, but I'm not sure) which stayed in good repair, was actually pretty, and for which there was a waiting list of at least a couple of years. 100% working Irish Catholics. Across this little corner of Boston Harbor towered the high-rise Columbia Point housing project. Stark, scary, and poorly funded and maintained right from the start. 95% African-American. The Boston Housing Authority criminally neglected Columbia Point, then publically decried "the mess these people made of their community." That was in the 50s and 60s. It's changed, though . . . it's gotten worse.